MSNBC apologizes for Cheerios tweet that offended Republicans

Thu Jan 30, 2014 5:58pm EST
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WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus said on Thursday he accepted an apology from the president of MSNBC over a tweet from the network that said "the rightwing" might disapprove of a Cheerios television ad featuring a biracial family.

MSNBC President Phil Griffin issued a statement saying the staffer responsible for the Wednesday night tweet had been fired.

"The tweet last night was outrageous and unacceptable," Griffin said. "We immediately acknowledged that it was offensive and wrong, apologized, and deleted it ... I personally apologize to Mr. Priebus and to everyone offended."

Priebus had banned RNC staffers from appearing on MSNBC, urged other Republicans to follow suit and demanded an apology because of the Twitter posting.

The cable news network's tweet said: "Maybe the rightwing will hate it, but everyone else will go awww: the adorable new #Cheerios ad w/ biracial family." The tweet was sent to promote an MSNBC story on the breakfast cereal commercial, which will be broadcast during Sunday's Super Bowl.

The ad stars Grace Colbert, 6, as the daughter of a fictional biracial couple. Last year, she was in a similar Cheerios commercial, which triggered racist comments when it was posted on YouTube, Google Inc's video-sharing site.

An RNC statement said Priebus and Griffin spoke by phone on Thursday and that the party would continue to monitor the network, which is seen as having a liberal bent.

"We don't expect their liberal bias to change but we will call them out when political commentary devolves into personal and belittling attacks," the statement said.

In a letter to Griffin, Priebus had said the Cheerios tweet showed that MSNBC "is poisoned by this pattern of behavior."   Continued...

Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus leaves the stage after addressing the Faith and Freedom Coalition "Road to Majority" conference in Washington June 15, 2013. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst